If you read through a typical eCommerce manager job description, you’ll quickly learn that it’s a robust role. An average day could start with a promotions meeting with the creative department in preparation for Black Friday. And from there, everything from putting together a digital marketing budget, overseeing expansion into Amazon and attempting to reinvent a supply chain could be an ordinary Tuesday in the office.
It’s fair to say eCommerce managers are an integral part of any thriving eCommerce business.
We sat down with three eCommerce managers from across the country to get an inside look at what it’s like to be in their position. They weigh in on the challenges of the job, what their mornings are like and how they manage their team.
Meet The Managers
Name: Brian Lerch
Years in eCommerce: 6
Name: Ana Lockwood
Years in eCommerce: 9
Name: Kaven Ayotte
Location: Quebec, Canada
Years in eCommerce: 7
Let’s start at the beginning of your eCommerce journey. What was your very first job?
Ana: I started working at All Things Jeep part-time in the accounting department. I have been responsible for various areas of the business at different times.
Kaven: I had a few years of experience with selling physical products online as an affiliate marketer beforehand, but Latulippe was and still is my first real eCommerce job.
Brian: This is my first eCommerce job!
So crazy that you all started at the company you’re currently at. This should give lots of employees hope that their first eCommerce job could turn into a promotion. What advice would you give anyone starting out? What are some good eCommerce Manager skills to have?
Ana: Having retail experience or another B2C background is definitely helpful. eCommerce works just like any other retail business, but the biggest differences are how and where we sell. We don’t have window displays, but we have on-site marketing. We don’t have flyers or newspaper inserts, but we do have emails.
Our site needs to be clean and organized so that customers can find merchandise, just as they would at a traditional brick-and-mortar store. Aside from that, flexibility is key. eCommerce changes. We need a team that can easily adapt to new ways and new markets.
Kaven: I think having experience in internet marketing is great. When you work in eCommerce, you inevitably end up working with Google Analytics dashboards, SEO, Adwords campaigns, social media accounts. Experience in programming is pretty useful.
You might not be the one writing the code, but you need to be able to talk to people that write code. Being able to speak their language and understand the logic behind projects will go a long way. I would also say, knowledge of the products and customers of the industry you want to work in is a big plus!
Brian: From a smaller business perspective, there first needs to be a love to serve the customer. Some form of retail experience is huge. From a more technical side, while there are many different areas in the eCommerce world, to me a vast majority of the jobs are problem solving. Growing and expanding in eCommerce is all about solving the problems at hand, whether it’s logistics or customer experience problems.
It helps to be a problem solver in some form. Maybe that’s an IT background, maybe it’s a leadership background. If you’re not ready to get excited about continually fixing and improving, you’re not ready for eCommerce. It amazes me after years of business, the new problems that pop up every week.
Growing and expanding in eCommerce is all about solving the problems at hand, whether it’s logistics or customer experience problems.
What’s the first thing you each do when you get to your desk in the morning?
Ana: First, I check in with my team. I stop by everyone’s workstation, ask how they are doing, and what they have going on for the day. We all work very independently so our quick chats in the morning gives us all the opportunity to sync as a team and talk about what’s ahead for the day and the near future.
This is also a great way for me to stay in tune with what’s going in the various areas of the business and I can also more easily assess the progress of various projects and tasks. By the time I get to my desk, the first thing I usually do is related to a conversation I just had with a team member.
Kaven: Check metrics!
Brian: Check email to scan for emergencies and immediate needs. Look at yesterday’s stats.
I really thought you were all going to say, “Drink my coffee.” So efficient! What does your day look like before lunchtime?
Ana: Most of my mornings I spend working with the team. Usually, we spend our mornings working on projects or we meet to discuss upcoming marketing campaigns, or making plans with the warehouse team about upcoming deliveries and sales, or calling vendors, or addressing any pending issues.
So your mornings definitely vary!
Kaven: It varies a lot but always with many emails involved. Some calls too, for things like looking at metrics in our custom tools and in Google Analytics or checking ad campaign results. Working on our Trello cards takes up the morning too.
Brian: Every day tends to be a little different, and being in the water sports world, we are extremely seasonal. When it’s summer, we are all hands on deck in every department. I will float where needed. Sometimes on the phones, other times I’m packing boxes. Switch to January, when nobody is thinking about getting on the water, we work on loading new products, improving logistics and procedures, working close with the marketing team, and so on.
And speaking of teams, how many people are on yours or in your company?
Ana: For most of the year our organization is a staff of 15 people. We are a very seasonal business, so during the holidays we’ll have three times as many people working with us.
Brian: There are four of us specifically on the eCommerce team that I manage. I also work closely with our brick-and-mortar proshop team.
Kaven: The web team at Latulippe is about 12 employees, I am in charge of the department but, I do not manage of all of the employees directly. It is split into 3 smaller teams: internet marketing, product data and billing and shipping.
I would say the very big quantity of SKU’s at Latulippe (50k +) and the fact that French is the main language makes it mandatory to have many employees working on product data. Web development is done by an outside agency.
Kaven, how does eCommerce in Canada differ than it might in the U.S.? You mention language but is there anything else that stands out to you?
Kaven: Being based in Quebec, the industry is very different. The language is the biggest difference and it has an influence on a lot of different things. For example, Amazon is a bit less omnipresent here than in the U.S and English-speaking Canada.
In Canada, the market is smaller and the competition is less so. It creates more opportunities for SEO, but those who are able to grab the opportunities and to rise to the top receive less of a big advantage than in the U.S.
Shipping costs a lot more in Canada and is generally more difficult too.
Kaven at a La Tulippe location
What do you guys think the biggest challenge of your job is?
Kaven: Communication is the biggest challenge. You tend to be the middleman for many projects, and need to be able to speak the language of a lot of different individuals with very different skill sets and backgrounds.
Ana: Not enough days in the week. Keeping the business running is time consuming. I wish we could dedicate more time to exploring new business opportunities.
Brian: For us it’s seasonality. Luckily, being busy in the summer, we can usually find good college students looking for work during the summer months. One of the other major challenges is a product rotation challenge. Most of our manufacturer’s come out with a complete new line of product every year, some more often.
That being said, every year, we have to build a complete new line of products. And personally speaking, as we continue to grow, it’s always difficult figuring out what to let go of, hand off to a coworker, and to decide what I do need to spend more of my time on.
Brian testing out some Wakehouse products
I hate to even ask this one but what would a bad day at the office look like?
Ana: It’s a day that we don’t deliver good services or products to our customers. And a really bad day is when we don’t deliver good services or products to our customers because of circumstances out of our control.
An example of a really bad day this past holiday season was when a USPS truck caught on fire on the way to a hub in the Midwest. It was almost impossible to figure out which packages were in the truck. Then we had to reach out to our customers and tell them a second package was on the way.
Brian: I’d agree that bad customer experiences can make a bad day. Whether it’s because we under served or the customer’s expectations were unrealistic, a few bad phone calls can really put a turn on the day. Chargebacks really hurt too. Man, do I hate chargebacks!
An example of a really bad day this past holiday season was a USPS truck that caught on fire on the way to a hub in the Midwest.
Kaven: Technical problems at peak times! Also, new feature launches can be pretty intense. People expect a smooth ride, but the unexpected tends to happen and you need to react quickly.
A lot of people reading this are probably either employers themselves or job seekers that are curious about getting an eCommerce Manager job. Do you have any advice for them?
Ana:I am always looking for people who are audacious, work well on their own, and aren’t afraid of changes. So my advice would be make sure you match your resume with the specific job description and attach a cover letter that shows your personal strengths.
Kaven: I would say, don’t be afraid to include personal projects or team projects that are related to the web. Here in Canada, the market situation is a bit similar to the one of programmers. Most of the more talented eCommerce people I know are self-taught, there isn’t a lot of formal education.
Setting up a Shopify store, hustling up some orders and shipping them to customers probably teaches way more than attending any eCommerce course.
Anything related to marketing, web development and retail is relevant!
Brian: I don’t even have a resume. I’m not sure if that’s hilarious or scary!
It’s hilarious. Also, we have eCommerce resume writing tips if you need help, Brian! Final question. What do you love most about working in eCommerce?
Ana: eCommerce is an ever-changing business. Therefore, developing new ideas and marketing strategies are essential to a successful business – and the challenge of always having to come up with new ideas is my favorite part.
Brian: I love challenges and there are no shortages of them in eCommerce.
Kaven: I like the way it combines marketing and technology. I like its complexity, it has a lot of different subsystems that all work with each other. I also like the fact that it changes at an incredible speed. If we look at the big picture, we’re still are at the very beginning of eCommerce.
Looking to Hire an eCommerce Manager? Use Our Example Post!
[Company Name] [City, State]
TK Brands | Toledo, Ohio
About TK Brands
[Include a snippet here about your business’ mission statement and the background of your business. This can be pulled right from your own company website.]
Founded in 1955, TK Brands launched their eCommerce business in the 1990’s. Since then we are a team of 80 employees who work at our HQ in Toledo. We’re a dog friendly office in a prime downtown location. We’re rapidly expanding beyond our own website and are currently on multiple 3rd party platforms like Amazon and Wayfair. This is a mid-level opportunity to hit the ground running and move up in a small but growing company.
What We’re Looking For
[Brief description of the personality traits and experience you want out of candidates.]
Proven track record in driving an Amazon business
Keen insights into the eCommerce industry overall and a way to read and respond to data
Strong familiarity with SEO, keyword, killer product pages and best UX practices
Ability to handle all SKU and UPC management
Good grasp on monitoring product inventory and direct flow of inventory to our warehouse
Knowledge of Amazon TOS to keep us in good standing
Ability to provide analytic reports of online sales to management
Laidback and good-natured. We need employees that work well with others!
Dog lover (not a necessity, but hey, it helps!)
[Detail what you want candidates to have on their resume]
Minimum 3 years experience in a managerial role
Experience working on Amazon and other third party channels
How To Apply
[Explain what you want candidates to include along with their resumes. Here is where you can add editorial tests or a subject line in order to vet candidate applications.]
Please send the following along with your resume:
Cover letter detailing your experience
Answers to the following questions:
1. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve ever faced in the office and how did you overcome it?
2. What TV sitcom character best mirrors your personality?
3. How do you feel about Jeff Bezos? Be honest.
Please include “Your Future eCommerce Manager: (Your Name) in the subject line.
Big thanks to Ana, Brian and Kaven for taking the time out of their busy days to chat. Whether you’re hoping to pull inspiration for writing up a killer eCommerce Manager job description or you’re looking to be a future superstar manager, you can search job listings here or post an open position here. Happy hunting and seeking!